Who should be in the front six at Highbury tomorrow?
Attacking away-day AFC 4-4-2 made a long-awaited return at St Andrews last week, and combined with a total resolve among the selected players produced a much-needed win.
After one goal in nine games for the AFC 4-5-1, we got two goals in one game playing the system that suits each one of Arsenal's players best: particularly the double centurion, Thierry Henry.
The combination of a flying Reyes on the left to give the chief support to Henry and Adebayor, along with the inclusion of Fabregas on the right to come inside and support Diaby and Gilberto, gave the Arsenal front-six perfect balance. In fact, aside from the inclusion of Adebayor (I thought Dennis should start), this was the selection I wanted to play at Birmingham, exactly for the reason that it gave us an excellently balanced front-six necessary for away-matches.
Now, Arsenal are back at home tomorrow, and will face the bogeymen from Bolton. I must give credit to Bolton for their recent record against us. I sense they have the psychological upper-hand over Arsenal, and relish roughing us up. Their style of play is the antithesis of ours- and they love to prove that their style is the more effective.
It would be great for AFC to give Bolton a footballing lesson! And with our defence again likely to feature the young Swiss guard with Flamini and Larsson as supporting FB's, the onus is again on the front six to win their battles.
Diaby is a must in the centre of the pitch alongside Gilberto. This is AFC's best CM combo at present: giving us good size, presence and tackling ability in the centre of the park.
Reyes is a must on the left wing. He is an ever-present threat, gets into the box, and has the pace to put the opposition on the back foot.
Henry is Henry… so that leaves the right midfield and second striker positions up for grabs.
Apparently VP is unavailable so its between Dennis and Adebayor. The Bolton CB's are powerful, so it may be best playing a big man like Adebayor for nuisance-value effect, allowing Thierry, Reyes etc to take advantage of the defenders being preoccupied by the Togolese international. On the other hand, I'm a big believer in the Reyes/Bergkamp/Henry partnership, with Dennis' guile maximising the attacking threat of his attacking partners.
It's a tough call, and I see big benefits in either option. My instinct right now is to start with the fresh Adebayor option.
On the right I see the choice being between Ljungberg and Fabregas. Again it's a tough call. Young Francesc was part of a winning team last week, has had the much-needed refreshment of a three match suspension, and I like the fact that he can come inside to support Diaby and Gilberto.
That said, I prefer at home to have someone of more attacking impetus on the right, so would start with Freddie. He has seriously struggled for form and fitness this season, and has accumulated a lot of doubters. Yet there were signs of improvement against West Ham, and I reckon that he is hugely determined to resurrect the old Freddie of past seasons. He should also be the better option to keep the raiding Gardner occupied in his own half.
So my team to go out all guns against Bolton tomorrow is: